Twin names pose special challenges and special pleasures, for the namer and name enthusiast alike. Here, Nameberry intern and guest blogger Hannah Tenison chooses her favorite twin pairs and tells us why they work so well.
Since the days of Ancient Rome and Greece, when the stories of Remus and Romulus and Castor and Pollux circulated among the public, twins have been a source of intrigue; but when Mary–Kate and Ashley burst onto the screen in the 80s sitcom “Full House” as the lovable Michelle, they became positively marketable.
The Olsen twins gave way to “The Parent Trap,” starring Lindsay Lohan as twins Hallie and Annie; Tia and Tamera Mowry, who starred in the 90’s Disney show “Sister, Sister,” and later, Dylan and Cole Sprouse in “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” There’s “Harry Potter”’s Fred and George Weasley as well as Padma and Parvati Patil, along with “A Series of Unfortunate Events’” Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, and in music, there’s the duo Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, and indie pair Tegan and Sara.
But of course, the most interesting thing about twins is their names – at least from a name nerd’s perspective. Here, a list of my personal favorite twin name pairs, from starbabies to royalty, and why I think they work well together.
Thornton and Theophilus Wilder (Thornton wrote the play “Our Town”): Unusual, distinguished, and somewhat stodgy, these names sound old-world cool, and the shared “th” sound makes them similar without taking it over the top. I like that Thornton, whose unfussy surname vibe couldn’t be more different from the antiquated sound of Theophilus, still manages to sound like the latter’s twin.
Vivian and Marian Brown, “The San Francisco Twins”: This lively octogenarian sister pair live in San Francisco, where their identical looks and outfits have earned them local celebrity status. These names are both old-fashioned cool, and their same three-letter ending creates a vivacious rhythm that marries them perfectly together and is a subtler form of connection than a shared first initial. I think the best part about the names, however, is that they each have a unique feel, while sounding so similar. Vivian is spunky, even “vivacious,” while Marian reminds me of Maid Marian from “Robin Hood” : a calm, collected beauty.
Eva and Joy Green (Eva plays Vesper in “Casino Royale”): A complimentary meaning theme – life and happiness –, these two names are short, sweet, and classic without being overexposed. The only aspect of the pair that doesn’t appeal to me is that super short Joy seems almost insubstantial next to gorgeous, Biblical Eva.
Matteo and Valentino Martin (Ricky Martin): Unmistakably Latin, handsome, and ‘o’-so-catchy, these names share a romantic flair. But is it too much romance for two boys? I almost wish it were Matteo and Vance, or Matteo and Vincent, or something along those lines: I feel like a strong name is needed to either ground Matteo or Valentino.
Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip (Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn): This set is near perfection. Both first names are retro nicknames, the second name is a three syllable classic derived from the Bible, and the third name, a flower. A lovely way to match twins without being obnoxious.
Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James (Elvis Costello and Diana Krall): Dexter and Frank are cool enough, sharing a certain bluesy feel, but then we add the second and third names for each twin, and we’ve got downright hip: Henry Lorcan combines a chic classic with a little known Irish name; Harlan James sounds like a jazz musician, appropriate for the son of two musicians. Together, these names “rock.”
Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia (Julia Roberts): Antiquated Phinnaeus and vintage Hazel fit well together, managing to sound grownup without taking themselves too seriously. Middle names Walter and Patricia match equally well. I do wish that Hazel had a noticeably antique name to go with Phinnaeus, however. Yes, Patricia is an ancient name, but it doesn’t have an antique sound like Phinnaeus. Hazel Euphemia would be my pick, or Hazel Parthenia.
Vincent and Josephine, infant Prince and Princess of Denmark: This pair shares elegance and distinction; together, they sound refined and regal, perfect for a royal set. The royal babies’ full names are Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander and Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda. Mathilda honors her mother’s native Australia, while Minik and Ivalo are Greenlandic names, a nod to Denmark’s independent territory of Greenland.
Nameberry intern Hannah Tenison is a student at the University of Michigan, with a double major in English and German. She is currently completing an internship near Munich, Germany, where she works in translations. After graduation, Hannah plans to study international journalism. She blogs about names and life in Germany at http://themoonisntshining.blogspot.com